Fair Share Housing Center Director of Racial Justice Policy James Williams issued the following statement hailing the passage of S250 through the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee. The legislation would prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of prior criminal records:
Senator Troy Singleton and the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee took an important step today in passing nationally significant legislation that would help dismantle discriminatory housing practices that drive intergenerational poverty.
S250 would “ban the box” by preventing landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants with prior criminal records. For decades, landlords have used applicants’ pasts to deny them access to safe, affordable housing.
This legislation would make communities safer, as discriminating on the basis of criminal records has driven recidivism; people with a decent place to live end up in more stable situations.
Current policy also has deepened racial and economic segregation in New Jersey. Because New Jersey has exceptionally high levels of disparities in arrests and imprisonment – meaning that a white person who uses marijuana is likely to receive no punishment while a Black or Latino person in the same situation too often ends up behind bars — criminal background checks are tools of racial discrimination.
Today’s vote represents an important first step at dismantling systemic racism during a national reckoning on issues of race and social justice.
We call on the Senate to quickly approve this legislation and to send it to the Assembly for its consideration.